Ephrin‑B2 inhibits cell proliferation and motility in vitro and predicts longer metastasis‑free survival in breast cancer.
ABSTRACT: The tyrosine kinase receptor EphB4 and its ligand ephrin‑B2 interact through cell‑to‑cell contacts. Upon interaction, EphB4 transmits bidirectional signals. A forward signal inside EphB4‑expressing cells is believed to suppress tumor growth, while inside the ephrin‑expressing cells, an oncogenic reverse signal arises. In breast cancer cells with a high EphB4 receptor expression the forward signal is low, in part due to the low expression of the ligand ephrin‑B2. Therefore, we hypothesized that by re‑introducing the ligand in EphB4‑positive cells, tumor suppression could be induced by the stimulation of the forward signal. This question was addressed in vitro by the stable lentiviral infection of breast cancer cells with either wild‑type EFNB2 or with a mutant EFNB2‑5F, unable to transmit reverse signaling. Furthermore, we investigated ephrin‑B and EphB4 protein expression in 216 paraffin‑embedded tumors using immunohistochemistry. The in vitro results indicated that ephrin‑B2 expression was associated with a lower cell proliferation, migration and motility compared with the control cells. These effects were more pronounced when the cells lacked the ability to transmit the reverse signal (B2‑5F). In clinical material, ephrin‑B protein expression was associated with a positive estrogen receptor (ER) status, a low HER‑2 expression and was negatively associated with Nottingham histologic grade (NHG) III. Ephrin‑B expression indicated a good prognosis, whereas EphB4 expression was associated with a shorter metastasis‑free survival in univariate and multivariate analysis. Furthermore, the prognostic value of EFNB2 and EPHB4 was confirmed at the gene expression level in public datasets. Thus, on the whole, the findings of this study suggest that ephrin‑B2 expression is associated with less proliferation and lower motility of breast cancer cells and with a longer patient survival in breast cancer.
Project description:The tyrosine kinase receptor EphB4 is frequently overexpressed in ovarian and other solid tumors and is involved in interactions between tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment, contributing to metastasis. Trans-interaction between EphB4 and its membrane-bound ligand ephrin B2 (EFNB2) mediates bi-directional signaling: forward EFNB2-to-EphB4 signaling suppresses tumor cell proliferation, while reverse EphB4-to-EFNB2 signaling stimulates the invasive and angiogenic properties of endothelial cells. Currently, no small molecule-based, dual-function, EphB4-binding peptides are available. Here, we report our discovery of a bi-directional ephrin agonist peptide, BIDEN-AP which, when selectively internalized via receptor-mediated endocytosis, suppressed invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition of ovarian cancer cells. BIDEN-AP also inhibited endothelial migration and tube formation. In vivo, BIDEN-AP and its nanoconjugate CCPM-BIDEN-AP significantly reduced growth of orthotopic ovarian tumors, with CCPM-BIDEN-AP displaying greater antitumor potency than BIDEN-AP. Both BIDEN-AP and CCPM-BIDEN-AP compromised angiogenesis by downregulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition and angiogenic pathways. Thus, we report a novel EphB4-based therapeutic approach against ovarian cancer.
Project description:Receptor tyrosine kinases of the Eph family are up-regulated in different types of cancer. EphB4 and its ligand ephrin-B2 have been linked to breast cancer, but little is known about how this receptor-ligand complex may contribute to oncogenesis. The Eph receptors transmit forward signals via their kinase domain and reverse signals via their transmembrane ephrin-B ligands. Therefore, we used EphB4 that were lacking the kinase domain and tagged with EGFP (EphB4 Delta C-EGFP) to differentiate between EphB4 and ephrin-B2 signaling. Interestingly, we found that expression of EphB4 Delta C-EGFP in breast cancer cells increases tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model. Given the undetectable EphB4 activation in the tumor cells, dominant negative effects of EphB4 Delta C-EGFP are unlikely to explain the increased tumor growth. Examination of the tumors revealed that ephrin-B2 is primarily expressed in the vasculature and that the EphB4 Delta C-EGFP tumors have a higher blood content than control tumors, concomitant with increased size of blood vessels. In support of an effect on the vasculature, the extracellular domain of EphB4 attracts endothelial cells in vitro and stimulates endothelial cell invasion, survival, and proliferation, all crucial factors for angiogenesis. These results support a model in which EphB4 promotes tumor growth by stimulating angiogenesis through ephrin-B2.
Project description:Genetic studies in the mouse have implicated ephrin-B2 (encoded by the gene Efnb2) in blood vessel formation, cardiac development and remodeling of the lymphatic vasculature. Here we report that loss of ephrin-B2 leads to defects in populations of cranial and trunk neural crest cells (NCC) and to defective somite development. In addition, we show that Efnb1/Efnb2 double heterozygous embryos exhibit phenotypes in a number of NCC derivatives. Expression of one copy of a mutant version of Efnb2 that lacks tyrosine phosphorylation sites was sufficient to rescue the embryonic phenotypes associated with loss of Efnb2. Our results uncover an important role for ephrin-B2 in NCC and somites during embryogenesis and suggest that ephrin-B2 exerts many of its embryonic function via activation of forward signaling.
Project description:Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is a common congenital malformation associated with high mortality rates, mainly due to pulmonary hypoplasia and persistent pulmonary hypertension following birth. The present study aimed to investigate abnormal lung development in a rat CDH model, and examine temporal and spatial changes in the expression of ephrin type?B receptor 4 (EPHB4) and ephrin?B2 (EFNB2) during fetal lung development, to elucidate the role of these factors during lung morphogenesis. Pregnant rats received nitrofen on embryonic day (E) 8.5 to induce CDH, and fetal lungs were collected on E13.5, E15.5, E17.5, E19.5, and E21.5. The mean linear intercept (MLI) and mean alveolar number (MAN) were observed in fetal lung tissue at E21.5 following hematoxylin and eosin staining. E13.5 fetal lungs were cultured for 96 h in serum?free medium and branch development was observed under a microscope. The gene and protein expression levels of EPHB4 and EFNB2 were assessed by reverse transcription?quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis, and immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry, respectively. The fetal rat lungs were treated with EFNB2 and the activity of key signaling pathways was assessed. The lung index (lung weight/body weight) at E21.5 was significantly lower in the CDH rats, compared with that in the control fetal rats. The MLI and MAN were also lower in the CDH group. The number of lung terminal buds at E13.5 (embryonic stage), and the lung?explant perimeter and surface were all smaller in the CDH group rats than in the control group at the same age. Pulmonary hypoplasia was observed following 96 h of in vitro culture. No significant differences were found in the expression levels of EFNB2 and EPHB4 between the CDH and control groups at E13.5 (embryonic stage) or E15.5 (pseudoglandular stage), however, EFNB2 and EPHB4 were significantly upregulated at E17.5 (canalicular stage), and at E19.5 and E21.5 (saccular/alveolar stages). EFNB2 stimulated pulmonary branching and EFNB2 supplementation decreased the activity of p38, c?Jun NH2?terminal kinase, extracellular signal?regulated kinase, and signal transducer and activator of transcription. The CDH fetal rats developed pulmonary dysplasia at an early stage of fetal pulmonary development. Upregulated expression of EFNB2 and EPHB4 was observed in the rat lung of nitrofen?induced CDH, and the increased expression of EFNB2 promoted rat lung development in the nitrofen?induced CDH model.
Project description:Ephrin B2 (EFNB2) is a ligand for erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular kinases (EPH), the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases. It has critical functions in many biological systems, but is not known to regulate blood pressure. We generated mice with a smooth muscle cell (SMC)-specific deletion of EFNB2 and investigated its roles in blood pressure regulation and vascular SMC (VSMC) contractility. Male Efnb2 knockout (KO) mice presented reduced blood pressure, whereas female KO mice had no such reduction. Both forward signaling from EFNB2 to EPHs and reverse signaling from EPHs to EFNB2 were involved in regulating VSMC contractility, with EPHB4 serving as a critical molecule for forward signaling, based on crosslinking studies. We also found that a region from aa 313 to aa 331 in the intracellular tail of EFNB2 was essential for reverse signaling regulating VSMC contractility, based on deletion mutation studies. In a human genetic study, we identified five SNPs in the 3' region of the EFNB2 gene, which were in linkage disequilibrium and were significantly associated with hypertension for male but not female subjects, consistent with our findings in mice. The coding (minor) alleles of these five SNPs were protective in males. We have thus discovered a previously unknown blood pressure-lowering mechanism mediated by EFNB2 and identified EFNB2 as a gene associated with hypertension risk in humans.
Project description:Ephrin B2/EphB4 mediates interactions among osteoblasts (OBs), osteoclasts (OCLs), and chondrocytes to regulate their differentiation. We investigated the role of ephrin B2/EphB4 signaling in mediating the anabolic effects of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and parathyroid hormone (PTH) on those cells and overall endochondral bone formation. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that the expression of ephrin B2 in OBs, OCLs, and osteocytes, and the expression of EphB4 in OBs and osteocytes was dramatically decreased in global IGF-I knockout mice. Inactivation of EphB4 by EphB4 small, interfering RNA (siRNA) in cultured bone marrow stromal cells significantly decreased the mRNA levels of OB differentiation markers and abolished the stimulatory effects of IGF-I on these markers. Blocking the interaction of EphB4 and ephrin B2 in the OB-OCL cocultures with the EphB4 specific peptide TNYL-RAW or deletion of ephrin B2 in OCL prior to coculture led to fewer and smaller tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP)-positive cells, decreased expression of OB differentiation markers, and blunted response to IGF-I for both OCL and OB differentiation. In the growth plate, both ephrin B2 and EphB4 are expressed in late stage proliferating and prehypertrophic chondrocytes, and their expression was decreased in mice lacking the IGF-I receptor specifically in chondrocytes. In vitro, blocking the interaction of EphB4 and ephrin B2 in chondrogenic ATDC5 cells with TNYL-RAW significantly decreased both basal and IGF1-induced expression of type II and type X collagen. In the cocultures of ATDC5 cells and spleen cells (osteoclast precursors), TNYL-RAW decreased the numbers of TRAP-positive cells and the expression of nuclear factor of activated T cells, cytoplasmic 1 (NFATc1) and receptor activator of NF-?B (RANK), and blocked their stimulation by IGF-I. Our data indicate that IGF-I/IGF-IR signaling promotes OB, OCL, and chondrocyte differentiation via ephrin B2/EphB4 mediated cell-cell communication.
Project description:Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSC) express the contact-dependent erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular (Eph) receptor tyrosine kinase family and their cognate ephrin ligands, which are known to regulate thymocyte maturation and selection, T-cell transendothelial migration, activation, co-stimulation, and proliferation. However, the contribution of Eph/ephrin molecules in mediating human MSC suppression of activated T-cells remains to be determined. In the present study, we showed that EphB2 and ephrin-B2 are expressed by ex vivo expanded MSC, while the corresponding ligands, ephrin-B1 and EphB4, respectively, are highly expressed by T-cells. Initial studies demonstrated that EphB2-Fc and ephrin-B2-Fc molecules suppressed T-cell proliferation in allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) assays compared with human IgG-treated controls. While the addition of a third-party MSC population demonstrated dramatic suppression of T-cell proliferation responses in the MLR, blocking the function of EphB2 or EphB4 receptors using inhibitor binding peptides significantly increased T-cell proliferation. Consistent with these observations, shRNA EphB2 or ephrin-B2 knockdown expression in MSC reduced their ability to inhibit T-cell proliferation. Importantly, the expression of immunosuppressive factors, indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase, transforming growth factor-?1, and inducible nitric oxide synthase expressed by MSC, was up-regulated after stimulation with EphB4 and ephrin-B1 in the presence of interferon (IFN)-?, compared with untreated controls. Conversely, key factors involved in T-cell activation and proliferation, such as interleukin (IL)-2, IFN-?, tumor necrosis factor-?, and IL-17, were down-regulated by T-cells treated with EphB2 or ephrin-B2 compared with untreated controls. Studies utilizing signaling inhibitors revealed that inhibition of T-cell proliferation is partly mediated through EphB2-induced ephrin-B1 reverse signaling or ephrin-B2-mediated EphB4 forward signaling by activating Src, PI3Kinase, Abl, and JNK kinase pathways, activated by tyrosine phosphorylation. Taken together, these observations suggest that EphB/ephrin-B interactions play an important role in mediating human MSC inhibition of activated T cells.
Project description:Receptor tyrosine kinases of the Eph family become tyrosine phosphorylated and initiate signalling events upon binding of their ligands, the ephrins. Eph receptors such as EphA2 and EphB4 are highly expressed but poorly tyrosine phosphorylated in many types of cancer cells, suggesting a limited interaction with ephrin ligands. Nevertheless, decreasing the expression of these receptors affects the malignant properties of cancer cells, suggesting that Eph receptors may influence cancer cells independently of ephrin stimulation. Ligand-independent activities of Eph receptors in cancer, however, have not been demonstrated. By using siRNA (small interfering RNA) to downregulate EphB4 in MCF7 and MDA-MB-435 cancer cells, we found that EphB4 inhibits integrin-mediated cell substrate adhesion, spreading and migration, and reduces beta1-integrin protein levels. Low expression of the EphB4 preferred ligand, ephrin-B2, and minimal contact between cells in these assays suggest that cell contact-dependent stimulation of EphB4 by the transmembrane ephrin-B2 ligand does not play a role in these effects. Indeed, inhibitors of ephrin-B2 binding to endogenous EphB4 did not influence cell substrate adhesion. Increasing EphB4 expression by transient transfection inhibited cell substrate adhesion, and this effect was also independent of ephrin stimulation because it was not affected by single amino acid mutations in EphB4 that impair ephrin binding. The overexpressed EphB4 was tyrosine phosphorylated, and we found that EphB4 kinase activity is important for inhibition of integrin-mediated adhesion, although several EphB4 tyrosine phosphorylation sites are dispensable. These findings demonstrate that EphB4 can affect cancer cell behaviour in an ephrin-independent manner.
Project description:Besides their long-known critical role in embryonic growth and in cancer development and progression, erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular carcinoma type B (EphB) receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin-B ligands are involved in the modulation of immune responses and in remodeling and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal epithelial layer. These processes are critically involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory-based disorders of the gut, like inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). Accordingly, our aim was to investigate the role of the EphB/ephrin-B system in intestinal inflammation by assessing the local and systemic effects produced by its pharmacological manipulation in 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS)- (Th1-dependent model) and dextran sulphate sodium (DSS)- (innate response model) induced colitis in mice. To this purpose, we administered chimeric Fc-conjugated proteins, allegedly able to uni-directionally activate either forward (ephrin-B1-Fc) or reverse (EphB1-Fc) signaling, and the soluble monomeric EphB4 extracellular domain protein, that, simultaneously interfering with both signaling pathways, acts as EphB/ephrin-B antagonist.The blockade of the EphB/ephrin-B forward signaling by EphB4 and EphB1-Fc was ineffective against DSS-induced colitis while it evoked remarkable beneficial effects against TNBS colitis: it counteracted all the evaluated inflammatory responses and the changes elicited on splenic T lymphocytes subpopulations, without preventing the appearance of a splice variant of ephrin-B2 gene elicited by the haptenating agent in the colon. Interestingly, EphB4, preferentially displacing EphB4/ephrin-B2 interaction over EphB1/ephrin-B1 binding, was able to promote Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF?) release by splenic mononuclear cells in vitro. On the whole, the collected results point to a potential role of the EphB/ephrin-B system as a pharmacological target in intestinal inflammatory disorders and suggest that the therapeutic efficacy of its blockade seemingly works through the modulation of immune responses, independent of the changes at the transcriptional and translational level of EphB4 and ephrin-B2 genes.
Project description:Glioblastomas (GBM) are aggressive and therapy-resistant brain tumours, which contain a subpopulation of tumour-propagating glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSC) thought to drive progression and recurrence. Diffuse invasion of the brain parenchyma, including along preexisting blood vessels, is a leading cause of therapeutic resistance, but the mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we show that ephrin-B2 mediates GSC perivascular invasion. Intravital imaging, coupled with mechanistic studies in murine GBM models and patient-derived GSC, revealed that endothelial ephrin-B2 compartmentalises non-tumourigenic cells. In contrast, upregulation of the same ephrin-B2 ligand in GSC enabled perivascular migration through homotypic forward signalling. Surprisingly, ephrin-B2 reverse signalling also promoted tumourigenesis cell-autonomously, by mediating anchorage-independent cytokinesis via RhoA. In human GSC-derived orthotopic xenografts, EFNB2 knock-down blocked tumour initiation and treatment of established tumours with ephrin-B2-blocking antibodies suppressed progression. Thus, our results indicate that targeting ephrin-B2 may be an effective strategy for the simultaneous inhibition of invasion and proliferation in GBM.